Rules for political signsDandelions may be the only thing more prevalent than political signs in area yards this time of year.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Dandelions may be the only thing more prevalent than political signs in area yards this time of year.
And political yard signs can be as difficult to deal with as weeds, according to election officials. City and county officials both handle complaints from the public about yard signs each election cycle.
“They can’t be on public right of way,” said Jeff Fuchs, Jamestown city administrator. “They have to be in the yard, not on the boulevard or along the curb.”
Fuchs said the boulevard area between the sidewalk and street is the most commonly recognized portion of the public right of way. Streets without sidewalks make enforcement harder.
“We try to actively enforce the rules,” Fuchs said. “If they are in the boulevard they will be told to move them.”
The same rules apply to the rural roads but are more difficult to enforce.
“They have to be off the road right of way but that varies from road to road outside Jamestown,” said Casey Bradley, Stutsman County chief operating officer. “We can measure it but often we just say the road ditches are off limits.”
Bradley said the rule applies to all public property and any signs placed in a park or other public land would be removed.
The sign must also include information on the sponsor paying for the sign.
“There needs to be a disclaimer on the bottom of any sign, pamphlet or ad,” said Lee Ann Oliver, election specialist with the North Dakota secretary of state. “It should say something like ‘paid for by candidate’ or a sponsoring committee and should include a contact name.”
The sponsor’s disclaimer applies to all but a few campaign tools.
“It doesn’t apply to billboards, buttons or bumper stickers,” Oliver said. “Otherwise, everything should have a disclaimer on it.”
Billboards and bumper stickers have another distinction under North Dakota election law.
“Everything that can be easily removed must be down on Election Day,” she said. “Things like yard signs, campaign buttons and pamphlets cannot be displayed on Election Day in North Dakota but bumper stickers and billboards can remain because they are more difficult to remove.”
Oliver said the prohibition on campaigning on Election Day only applies to state and local races. National races can legally advertise on North Dakota media while the polls are open.
The ban on campaigning on Election Day may also extend to clothing worn at the polling place.
“Just wearing a “Fighting Sioux” T-shirt will be allowed,” Bradley said. “Someone wearing something that says ‘vote yes or no’ would be required to change before they would be allowed into the polling place.”
Special rules apply to the area around the Stutsman County Courthouse once early voting begins May 29. No campaigning, including election signs, is allowed within 100 feet of the courthouse from that point through the election on June 12.
“Early voting is not considered Election Day,” Oliver said. “So the campaign doesn’t have to stop everywhere like it does on Election Day, but you can’t campaign close to those early polling places.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org